Extra Zip

While practice has started around the country for many collegiate sports, this fall has been extra special for West Virginia's women's soccer team.

The natural anticipation for the start of the season is certainly present for the womens' squad, but they have an extra zip in their steps as they started fall practice in their brand new practice facility.

Located just down the street from the team's home field, Dick Dlesk Stadium, it is the first facility that the team has not had to share with the men's team -- which makes it extra special to the players.

"It's awesome", said senior forward Megan Mischler. "I love this field. I came out here this summer a few times just by myself with a bag of balls and had the whole field. I think it's really nice. It's probably one of the best in the country. It's a state of the art facility. Last year, we shared it with the men's team and this year we have it strictly for us."

Head coach, Nikki Izzo-Brown is equally excited about the new facility.

"There is no question this facility is what we needed," said Izzo-Brown. "I think that the girls have worked extremely hard for this opportunity to have a field that we can start our season on and finish our season on. We have some things to do, still, but once we get those things done this is going to be the best facility in the country. It's just, keep growing with it. Right now the grass and the practice area have been fantastic."

Like many student athletes, Mischler stayed in Morgantown over the summer so that she could do weight training and practice while using West Virginia's facilities.

"I really worked out hard in the weight room this summer," said Mischler. "I wanted to get strong because I'm kind of small. I got my strength up but I also worked on my shot and my touch. (The offseason) did fly by. I was in Morgantown for most of the summer and I had an internship. It went by so quick before I knew it. We were counting down the days at the beginning of summer like ‘Oh three more months (until practice starts)' then it was like three more days."

Mischler and the rest of the team have big hopes for their season, which starts out with a big challenge. WVU hosts Penn State in the season opener in just less than two weeks.

"Penn State is going to be a top 10 team, if not a top five team, so we have to accelerate everything really quickly," said Izzo-Brown. "I think we're at 15 days to organize (before the first exhibition game). Having two scrimmages are definitely going to help to show us where our strength and weaknesses are."

The team is hoping that starting out the season with a bang against the Nittany Lions will set the tone for the rest of the season. The girls are hoping to finish out the end of the season better than they did last year, and get further into the NCAA tournament.

"As you can see last year with our RPI and what we were able to do over the course of the year, that really helped us to get into the NCAA tournament," said Izzo-Brown. "Teams like Penn State and Ohio State that are some non conference (opponents) for where we want to go with Big East play and at the end of the year."

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